back to article Your phone is winding me up

A UK firm has designed what’s thought to be the world’s first mobile phone with an integrated wind-up charger mechanism. Wind-up chargers for a wide variety of gadgets have been available for years. But TCL - the firm behind the wind-up handset - claims a greater amount of energy will be created by cranking power directly into …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean...

    ... I'll be getting more wind up calls?

  2. Neal 5


    That's is going to be the most enterntainment all round on the 7.58 to Liverpool Street, it'll be the no1 video on youTube for months.

  3. Roger Stenning

    Not to mention....

    that crank calls will be springing up a lot!


    I'll get me coat ;-)

  4. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up


    I doubt the idea is to crank while it's to your ear - you do realise you can crank it up THEN make a call, right?

    Good idea though.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Sorry - they will be crank calls.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    A pivotal moment for mobile phones

    Presumably they've run a battery of tests to ensure performance - otherwise the customers would get cranky. Of course, at a one minute to four minute ratio, you're not going to be having any long-winded conversations. Even for customers in developed countries, though, this could be a fun way to unwind - though I wonder if they've got a handle on the ergonomics.

    Nevertheless, I'd get a real charge out of having one of these phones. And it's certainly nice to see a story from El Reg without any spin on it.

    The best part? Combine the '80s high-tech of wind-up flashlights, and the tendency of modern mobile phones to be used for emergency illumination, and you've got a technology that's finally come full-circle.

    OK, OK - I'll get my coat. I'll just go over there and take it off the hook.

  7. davolente

    Good trick if you can do it.

    Can't believe you you've got to keep winding whilst on a call. Well nigh impossible with it held against one's ear, I would have thought, unless you're a contortionist. 'Spose you could always use an el-cheapo wired hands-free mic/earpiece, because if, presumably, you were without power, a blue-tooth version's battery might be flat as well.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another accessory required

    Surely what needs to accompany this is a battery-powered crank-winding device?


  9. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Crank while you talk?

    Shirley not! There´s a very simple solution to that problem: mount a small electrical motor on the back of the handset to do the cranking while you´re on the phone. Can´t believe they didn´t think of it. Sheesh.

  10. Richard Porter

    We'll have to have a new offence...

    of driving whilst cranking.

  11. Captain TickTock

    First sign of madness...

    When I was a lad, twirling your finger in the air around your ear was an indication that someone had a few roos loose in the top paddock

    I'll get me dry-za-bone...

  12. Minang
    Thumb Up

    Great for emergancy situations.

    All joking aside, I could have used one of these phones.

    I was trapped in the 4th floor of the Ambacang hotel, Padang Indonesia. The 7.6 earthquake had cut all the power to the city, so there was no way to recharge my phone, even if I could have located the recharger in all the rubble.

  13. pctechxp

    A wind up charger would be better

    But wonder how long I'd have to crank it for to charge a Nokia 6700?

  14. Mookster

    as long as the battery doesn't blow up

    “With our system the generator accesses the battery directly, and that really increases the efficiency of the system"

    Mobile phone manufacturers spend a vast amount of time on power management and on making sure that the batteries don't blow up. I guess they'll have to test each phone model separately...

  15. Evil Genius

    Cranking the handle

    "Honest officer, I'm charging my mobile."

    That'll never stand up in court.

  16. kissingthecarpet

    Re:as long as the battery doesn't blow up

    Best to watch the BBC report before commenting - your Fail has Failed

  17. Parax

    @First sign of madness...

    is Suggs coming up the garden path...

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Great for emergancy situations.

    Except that a quick trawl of the news reports at the time reveals that "all communications to the area were cut", so your wind-up phone would have been useless too. Fully-charged and useless, I'll grant, but still useless.

    The problem with the product for me is that it's proving difficult to imagine a situation where power is not available at all but mobile telephony reception is.....

  19. Richard 12 Silver badge


    Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer are *well known* for 'Venting With Flame' if improperly charged.

    So Mookster is quite right to be concerned that these chargers are well designed, as the output from a manual hand-crank is not going to be nicely regulated as the output from a decent SMP as found in plug-in and 12V chargers.

    ("Vent With Flame" is by far my favourite description of a failure mode.)

  20. Curtis


    while it may be hard for you to imagine, TeeCee, I've lived it. I live in Florida. Several years ago, we suffered 3 hurricanes within weeks of each other. Our local utility company had become lax about keeping trees trimmed away from overhead lines, with the predictable results. I was without power for over a week, but because the local towers were tied into the grid closer to substations using underground lines, cell phone reception was perfect.

    so, yes. i cna see how this could be a usefull emergency phone.

  21. zenp

    If... could strap it to the side of your head, then it would free up at least one hand from the 'brace and crank' technique one would be forced to employ for long phone calls. In addition, one may actually be able to make the x4 speed that that continuous talk and crank seems to require. Or you could carry a large spring driven mechanism, like a massive pocket watch, which you've spent hours prewinding, just so you can attach it to the crank handle port to power your increasingly un mobile device with ease (presumably we're on a train powered by elastic bands stretched between opposing stations, by this stage).

    Heath Robinson would have been so proud...

  22. Andus McCoatover

    Rolex Automatic?

    If it could be developed, a generator on your wrist would surely be better, like an automatic watch.

    Right wrist, if you happen to be a German truck-driver.

    But, rather than a crank-handle, surely a squeeeze trigger like on a bottle of Windolene spray would make more sense, with a headset, natch. Presumably, holding the phone with one hand while cranking/pumping with the same would make more sense. (Dunno what the person at the other end might suspect, but that's another story...)

    Nokia did a solar-powered phone 10 years ago*, which this has as backup also. Nokia sold bugger-all, IIRC.

    One FAIL - as you're cranking, power is lost in the green LED's around the handle. Oh, fuc*king well thought out. NOT.

    (OH, @TeeCee. In the target areas the company is thinking about, a lot of basestations and backhaul are solar/wind powered, giving decent power to the batteries. Nokia and others are actively pursuing this. Wind power would work nicely in Finland, too, as I just had my umbrella inverted by a stiff breeze the minute I stepped outside, but...)


  23. A J Stiles


    Since I installed PV panels last year, I've used a car charger to charge my mobe from a sun-charged 12 volt battery (apart from a couple of occasions when I've charged it from my PC using the USB cable). I don't even know for certain where my mains charger is anymore, since SWMBO tidied up .....

    Now, how long the mobile phone base stations will actually stay up in a power cut, especially with everyone making calls from their still-partially-charged phones the moment the power fails (to the electricity board to listen to the equipment busy tone, and to their friends to see who else's power has gone off), is another matter entirely. And if the land lines on which they still rely have failed, then having juice in your mobile's battery isn't a lot of help.

  24. PatAdam

    Wire it up to the steering wheel

    Then whilst driving with the phone held up to one ear, recharging can be accomplished simply by driving erratically, leaving the other hand free to fiddle with the SatNav in perfect safety...

  25. Alex King
    Thumb Up

    @TeeCee again

    Actually, this would be massively useful in lots of Africa, where the mobile phone network is distinctly more reliable than the power grid. So, whilst you may be finding imagination a bit of a struggle, I'm sure some people would manage...

  26. Matthew 3

    Gone full circle

    Anyone else remember the old war films where the army had to wind up the land-line to generate enough juice to make a call?

    And to add insult to injury, the technology goes by the oldies' name for it: 'wireless'!

  27. John 61

    forget calls...

    Will you be able to play games on the things?

  28. J 3
    Paris Hilton


    "But one downside to the phone’s integrated crank, as we see it, is that you will need to keep cranking the handle while the phone’s clamped to your ear."

    Sure that would be hard. And presumably noisy when the phone is help up to the ear, so who would even be able to crank and talk at the same time anyway?

    Now, for continuous use for longer periods a "remote crank" would sure be useful indeed. For quick emergency calls... not sure whether the extra hassle of gear would make it up for it.

  29. Chris 211

    Your all dumb!

    I cant beleave how many people are moaning about cranking while its attached to your face YOU DONT as long as you have spent some time winding it before hand! DOH!

    The whole interview was really bad actually, people talking about things they don't have a clue about, even the company representative. Both of them were grasping for an understanding.

    I would presume what the developers have not just smacked a standard phone inside with the gizmo, I would have hoped they went for all ultra low power options. The screen must take up loads of power, selecting the most power efficient screen had to be number one! Along with managed charging of the battery via the gizmo.

    It looks big and clunky, they could add a bit of rubber around the outside and make it splash proof or better still waterproof and then it really is setup for the harsh conditions of life without mains. A phone for backpacking! Africa etc! Leave it in the sun to charge. Its a good idea, stick a GPS in it! With a manual on/off switch so you don't drain the battery looking for the software OFF options for the GPS. Perfect!

  30. Paul Smart


    That would be "You're all dumb!" and "believe" or an I being dumb....

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